You knew it…I knew it…we ALL knew it. The pre-screening was 2 days ago and I’m still humming anthems from the film! How does Disney do that?! In a true follow-up to the 2013 wild success of Frozen, the encore of Frozen II is a hit. From visually stunning effects (seriously…they were magical), to memorable character moments (I’m going to share a few in moment), to a story of sisterhood that transcends time and space, Frozen II had my heart from the opening credits.
But, is it a win for foster and adoptive families?
Big question. The reason this question must lead our discussion, with anything media-related, is that our children have experienced a lot of loss in their lives. And with just about every Disney film, the theme of loss is a fixture as much as Cinderella’s castle in the opening credits. Frozen II is no exception, as the recurring storyline of Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna’s (Kristen Bell) parent’s death makes it into the plot, even if it’s slightly. Plus, we are on the cusp of the holiday season, which can automatically stir heavy emotions within our children. The last thing we need is a family-fun experience to turn into a trigger for our children.
So I want to begin this review with cautions you need to take as a parent before dressing your children up in Elsa and Anna dresses and heading to the theater.
Areas Of Concern…
- Themes of loss and death. As Anna and Elsa hurry to find the source of the voice that Elsa repeatedly hears calling to her, and subsequently the source of her mysterious power, they stumble upon their parent’s lost ship. If you recall from the first Frozen, their parents are lost at sea, thus leaving Anna and Elsa as without parents. Toward the end of the film, it appears that Olaf (Josh Gad) dies when he flurries away as he and Elsa are in a deep cavern together. Once Arendelle is saved by Anna and Elsa at the very end of the movie, Elsa uses her powers to bring Olaf back (similar to the first film) but this could bring up hard emotions of loss with your children (especially if they LOVE Olaf like we do!). I don’t believe loss and death is so strong that you should not take your children to see the movie. But you need to beware that they are overtones.
- Length of the movie. If you have young children, or children who become dysregulated easily when there’s no change of pace, beware of the length of this film. It’s an hour and 43 minutes in total. Again, I don’t think this is a preventer, but you do need to be ready to change the pace up. If you’re co-parenting, or have multiple adults in attendance, be ready to divide and conquer for a quick walk out in the lobby with your wiggly little one, or bring an activity your child can do in his or her seat in the theater.
- Slightly intense moments. The Earth Giants (massive creatures created from rock) are visually stunning but could be a little intense for younger children. Likewise, overtones of battle and slaying are present. Of course, you see nothing (no blood or gore) but take caution if your children gravitate to violence or have a fascination with these types of storylines.
- Minor lack of equality. There is a lot of caucasian in this film. A lot! Yes, this film is a portrayal of the Finnish culture, and Disney did their work in accurately portraying the indigenous Sami people (even signing a contract with them to respectfully portray them in the film). But the only overt character of color is the Captain of the King’s Guard, Mattias (Sterling K. Brown). This may be confusing for multi-racial families, especially. In terms of gender equality, Frozen II hits the mark with Anna and Elsa as the film’s lead heroes. But it leaves a little too be desired in terms of racial equality. For multi-racial families, it may be helpful to explain this if your children have questions, but also point to the positive that Disney did take intentional steps to show respect to the culture.
As I mentioned in the very first bullet point, and will reiterate here, I do not believe any of the points of caution are strong enough for me to recommend you not take your children to see Frozen II, but you do need to proceed cautiously. Of course, this is entirely up to your discretion. You know your children the best.
Areas Of Praise…
- A visual masterpiece. The magic of Disney, and the digital era we are living in, absolutely shown through in this film. During Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” I was mesmerized by the visual effects. A excerpt from the official production notes for the film explains, ‘The technology that helped usher in the characters in “Frozen” has advanced to such a degree since the film was released in 2013, the artists and technicians responsible for bringing even established characters like Anna and Elsa to life essentially had to start from scratch. “We had to honor the original vision, but technically we were able to do it better,” says Alexander Alvarado, character look development supervisor.’
- Heartwarming story of love. The sisterhood between Anna and Elsa remains a fixture in this film, but the bumbling, insecurity of Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), throughout the film, as he works up the nerve to ask Anna to marry him, is simply heartwarming and adorable.
- Songs you will not soon forget. Seriously, I’ve been humming “Into The Unknown” for the past few days. It’s a powerful ballad that ranks right along with 2013’s “Let It Go.” And Kristin and I were laughing out loud at the Chicago-reminiscent “Lost In The Woods” power ballad that Kristoff sings as he searches for Anna.
- Funny one-liners. Olaf steals the show, once again, with his hilarious one-liners. As Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven prepare (intensely, I might add), to journey into the mountains to seek the source of the voice Elsa hears, Olaf darts across the screen proclaiming “I’ll bring the snacks!” Later on, we find Olaf attempting to find his way out of a creepy part of the woods while trying to remember the name of Sven. Obviously, you have to see the movie to gain a full understanding of what I’m talking about, but I firmly believe you and your children will find similar humor as we did in these scenes.
My full recommendation is that Frozen II is a win for the entire family, and you should to take your children to see it. In-spite of the aforementioned themes of loss, I believe this film will rank right up there with its predecessor and continue to play on repeat for months, even years, to come. Again, take caution, and be prepared for discussion, but take your entire family, and enjoy Frozen II.